2006-06-30

Håkan Roswall compares Piratbyrån with terrorists, and the Pirate Bay with... something even worse

This is translated from Rasmus Fleischer of Copyriot, regarding the juridical aftermaths concerning the raid on the company PRQ, who had all their customers raided about a month ago. Some of their customers have had their equipment returned, some have not, and their own equipment, the equipment used for company administration, is still being held by order of prosecutor Håkan Roswall, without any given reason.

Now I've heard, by word of mouth from a person that was present in court in Stockholm on the Wednesday, what prosecutor Håkan Roswall said at the first negotiations that will be held regarding the seizure of various servers in relation with the Pirate Bay raid.

The company PRQ wanted their four computers back, computers used for book keeping and keeping tabs of customers (also necessary for PRQ to be able to pay their taxes). Håkan Roswall refuses and insists that the computers are to remain locked away for at least another year. He claims that this is important for the investigation.

When the court heard this case, it was thus time for Håkan Roswall to motivate his decisions. How did he do it? Well, first he allegedly talked about what bittorrent is in general for up about half an hour, and (nobody understands why) how virtual networking works. A guess is that the jurors were completely confused. Then Håkan Roswall said, according to what I have had told to me, literarily this:

I don't know how to say this, but one could say that Piratbyrån is like the IRA and the Pirate Bay is like IRAs armed forces.


It's stunning.

The ignorance of the prosecutor is one thing: the IRA is the "armed forces" of the Sinn Féin party, which should be part of anyone's general knowledge. What is more stunning is why he involved Piratbyrån in this at all. The negotiations was about the company PRQ, and the alledged necessity for the investigation to not return their accounts (not even a copy).

The worst thing, however, is what Håkan Roswall obviously is trying to say: the work to influence the public opinion that Piratbyrån is doing is to be compared to terrorism (and the Pirate Bay is terrorism squared). The fact that Piratbyrån is arguing that indexing services such as the Pirate Bay has an obvious right to exist, means that freedon of expression can be sorted away.

PRQ have appealed to a higher instance, but before that, the demands from more people and companies to get their computer equipment returned will be tried in the district court. Also the seizure of Piratbyrån's server will be brought up to trial, hopefully as soon as next week. But expect that Håkan Roswall will refuse to give an inch. This is of course a political question, where pressure has to be applied from as many directions as possible, if we are not to accept that prosecutors are going to be able to arbitrarily decide that one online voice or another are to be silenced for an unspecified timespan and without any suspicion of crime.

2006-06-29

Report: File sharing does not influence movie theater ticket or DVD sales

The Swedish daily GP (Gothenburg Post) had an interesting piece the other day. It claims that downloading of copyrighted materials does not cause much losses for the copyright holders.

Those that download movies from the internet does not shun the theaters and doesn't skip renting a movie. On the contrary, they are keen consumers of both movie theater visits and DVDs. This is revealed in a new report.

The movie theater visits in Sweden has steadily decreased. Last year there was 14.6 million visits to the theaters thoughout the country. Thirty years ago, that figure was almost three times as high and in the last two years alone the visits have decreased with four million. On the DVD market, the number of movies sold has increased, but the value of the total market has still been unchanged.

The movie industry has seen the illegal downloading of movies from the internet as one of the reasons that less people buy their products. But according to a new study from the SOM institute that is not the case.

- If you look at the population in general it is those who download movies who also visits the movie theaters most often and rents the most dvd movies, says Rudolf Antoni, candidate for the doctoral program in journalism and mass communication and the one responsible for the study where 1800 people has been interviewed on various topics, including movie theater habits.

Youmg men with home access to alot of technology is the group that downloads the most movies. The fact that they are also the most frequent movie theater visitors has been partially explained with notions that they belong to an age group that visits the theaters more often.

- But the downloading has no negative effect even if you only compare the age group up to 30 years old. There, everyone goes to the theaters equally much, if they download movies or not, says Rudolf Antoni.


This is a fascinating report with important results.

It shows that the panic over the waning sales of the movie industry can no longer be blamed on file sharing. File sharing is now documented not to influence the sale figures.

One might be urged to say that this report claims that file sharing is good for the sale figures. That may be so, but I'm quite sceptical about that - if an even larger segment of the population was downloading movies in the manner that the group "young men with home access to alot of technology" perhaps the general picture would be different, and it would lead to a slight decrease, albeit not a significant one.

However, it shows what file sharing advocates have claimed for quite a while by now - that the reason that people share movies with each other is that they simply like movies. In itself, that is a fact that should be received with big smiles from the movie producers, especially now, when it seems that the file sharers are not only the most eager consumers, but also the best customers as well.

In any account, the movie industry needs to find other reasons why their sales are decreasing. Perhaps they make inferior products. Perhaps they are marketing their products in a flawed way. Perhaps their distribution methods are outdated? Such things have been claimed by various file sharing advocates through-out the debate. If the movie industry is going to claim that their sales are decreasing in such a level that the very existance of their industry is at jeopardy, it would definately be in their interest to do an honest investigation of the real reasons.

But somehow I doubt that this will happen, something tells me that the movie industry will instead continue to blame their best customers instead of evaluating their own flaws. This is confirmed in the same GP article.

Jan Bernhardsson is CEO at SF Cinemas. Even if the new studies shows that file sharing on the internet might not be the explanation for the decrease of ticket sales, he doesn't feel calm at all.

- Absolutely not. Downloading is a real threat. Indirectly it provides a serious threat against the entire movie industry. If those producing the movies doesn't get paid there is no basis for investment. Then they can't produce any new movies, which also influence us negatively, he says.


This is a shame, since what they are doing is lobbying for a further criminalization of file sharers, and trying to push on us a concensus that file sharers are immoral and a threat. And now it seems that that those they want to outlaw and outcast are in fact their best customers.

Perhaps it is this arrogant attitude that is actually the bulk of the problem?

State is harassing pirates?

Quite a bit over 100 servers and other equipment seized by police in the Pirate Bay raid is still in police custody. Internet company PRQ has now demanded the return of four servers and networking equipment currently held by police. According to Fredrik Neij, these computers are strictly related to the PRQ company and have no connection at all to The Pirate Bay.

The four servers contains the PRQ economic system, which is crucial for the company, who is providing over 200 websites with internet connections and other services, including a Chechen news agency. Without this equipment, PRQ will have to rebuild their financial department from ground-up, something that will not only cost a lot of money in new investments, but will also seize effectiveness and mean a lot of workload for the few employees, who are currently working hard to keep their business running as it is, as every one of their customer were raided less than a month ago.

At the same time, the political think-tank/group Piratbyrån is still waiting to get their servers back. For over a week, they have been waiting, ever since the responsible prosecutor, the now more and more infamous Roswall, told them over phone that they had concluded that the Piratbyrån servers had no relations to any crime investigation, and all they needed was his signature - a signature he has still not signed on a paper, more than a week later.

When Swedish daily SvD asks the court in question, they claim they have not managed to get in contact with anyone who has he authority to give them their stuff back.

This is such an obvious lie it is ridiculous. Do the court mean to tell us that Piratbyrån has an easier time getting in contact with Roswall than they do themselves? If so, they need to overlook their routines, maybe plug a phone line into the building and get all those clerks to actually show up at work.

The fact of the matter is that it is getting abundantly clear that this is nothing but authority sanctioned harassments, against the Pirate Bay internet provider and against the piracy advocates.

There has obivously been a political decision to shut down the Pirate Bay. This was ridiculously ineffective, as the Pirate Bay managed to get back on-line with donations from ordinary people after only a few days. They're now back at full capacity, but all this attention and the intensified, not decreased but increased trafic, has made creative businesses hounding them to be able to finance the whole thing. So, by a raid they did not accomplish anything - quite the opposite.

So a new tactic seems to have been deviced. Now the authorities hold on to all equipment they could find. The thought is that it should be very risky to have any relations at all with the Pirate Bay, that so far has never been convicted of anything. If you are their internet service provider you can get all your customers harassed. If you have the same internet provider as the Pirate Bay, you can get harassed. In the long run, if you can't take them out by force, you can harass them, untill they won't get hosted anywhere.

This is very similar to the strategies used in the wars between gangsters and police in the 1930's and 40's. It's standard mob policing, in other words.

The problem is that this strategy will fail, because the Pirate Bay have absolutely no problems what so ever to find willing providers of hardware, software or connection. The Pirate Bay is quite international in its decentralisation and simplicity - if no ISP would rent them bandwidth in Sweden, they simply move their activity elsewhere. And who lose from this? Not the Pirate Bay. They are already moving in a grey zone, legally and - some would say - morally. The ones that will lose from this is the Swedish authorities, that proves that when they can't get rid of something irritating and when the international lobby groups breathes down their necks, they will resort to mafia methods.

Perhaps even more disturbing is the even more obvious harassment being done against Piratbyrån. Piratbyrån is not the same as the Pirate Bay. Piratbyrån is a political think tank and lobby group. They are hardly revolutionaries in anyway. They have an opinion on certain matters of legislation and a view of culture that makes political opponents to Antipiratbyrån, which is the copyright holders' (that is, the movie and computer game development industry - book publishers and record companies have their own groups) interest and lobby group. Antipiratbyrån, however, has made themselves the prime source of information and decision foundation for the authorities - in itself a scandal that casts a shadow over the current fairness of Swedish authorities on these matters - and thus it is important for said authorities to come to their aid.

The problem is that Piratbyrån has proved to be a prominent political opponent. They lack the ear of the authorities, but instead they are often warmly welcomed by others, such as the bigger political parties' parliamental groups, and are frequently figuring in media. And more importantly, they have better arguments than the Antipiratbyrån, they know more on the topic than the authorities, and they have a large support among aware groups on the internet.

Thus they are also harassed, now by having their servers withheld without reason.

It's a shame that Piratbyrån hasn't managed to get the message through to the newspaper that Roswall has openly said that their equipment doesn't have anything to do with the investigation, but that he still keeps it in police storage. That is something that deserves quite some attention in the press, given the outcry about american interests being behind the bust in the first place. What would they say when they no longer could close their eyes to the fact that the authorities are also harassing political opponents for their own reasons?

For Swedish readers, check out Svenska Dagbladet.

2006-06-28

Tip for Swedish readers

Oscar Swartz has just had his report "Marschen mot Bodströmsamhället: Hur justitieministerns dubbelspel hotar våra grundlagsfästa fri- och rättigheter" ("The march towards the Bodström society: How the justice ministers double dealins threatens our constitutional freedoms and rights") published on Timbro. It is a available as a PDF in Swedish.

Download

Lobby boss claims freedom obsolete and transforms pioneers into activists

Monique Wadsted is a lawyer, who works for the law firm Maqs. She claims to be Hollywoods (MPAAs) legal representative in Sweden, and her job is basically being the one coordinating the lobby on the juridical system and politicians in Sweden. With this area of expertice, and the experience in the field, one would think that Wadsted knew alot of what she was doing. But yesterday, June 27, she has written a piece published on Page 4 in Swedish tabloid Expressen that shows such a lack of perspective that I begin to wonder if the opponents of us pirates has any other assetts than money.

They think they are above the law

In the childhood of internet, it was a place where scientists and people interested in computers were at work. In its limited culture, the idea grew that all information should be free. It was natural in that environment and made it possible for internet to develop in the way it has done by the work of developing standard protocolls among other things. We should all be greatful for that.

The rest of society started to establish itself on the internet in 1995. Already early on, it was clear that this was a development that was not desireble for the internet activists. The were more and more marginalized and the idea that all information should be free was of course impossible to maintain when internet became part of the rest of society.

The debate has at times been heated and the internet activists have become more and more aggressive. This is something we've seen examples of lately with threats and harassments against people of different opinions and representativs för rightowners, such as me. They have also attacked the websites of the government, the police and Antipiratbyrån.

What initially was a culture that worked for peace and globalisation has developed to an unhealthy subculture where the members deem themselves above the law and have the right to do and say what they want.

They simply do not accept that the internet is now part of society as a whole. Many of them, like the guys behind the Pirate Bay, have also left the ideal state behind. By using the large trafic on the Pirate Bay they now make alot of money by selling ads, for example from gambling companies and from young women stripping for the webcam.

The necessity of freedoms specifically for the internet is of course nonsense. The existing copyright rules is also at work on the net. The adaption made by the Swedish copyright legislation last year clearified that copying an illegaly produced copy for yourself was forbidden. Such a change in legislation can hardly be concidered controversial. The internet activists have not given up, however, and the group got a renewal with the invention of file sharing programs. Swedish internet activists created nodes to simplify this illegal handling. A large part of these were placed in Sweden because of its large bandwidth capacity and the lack of police resources to handle this criminality. More and more people started uploading and downloading movies and other things without paying. Not primarily because they thought it was the right thing, but because it was possible.

To download a movie from Pirate Bay often take several hours. Many swedes can, during that amount of time, go to the nearest video store many times. For those living far from such stores there's a possibility to rent movies via mail. Sites with legal access to movies exists nowadays. To rent a new movie in Sweden costs 30 SEK; an acceptable price for someone with a slim income.

Why are people illegaly downloading from the net? My guess is that it is because it's cool, that on the net one can get a hold of illegal movies before they go up on theaters or arrive at the video store and that the risk to exposure has been very small. The fact that alot of youths and adults break the law is of course a problem. The cure against this, however, is not to legalize this activity. Just as little as any politician would get the idea to legalize speeding because many drivers drives too fast, there are no reasons to change the copyright legislation simply because many people are engaging in illegal up- and downloading. Nor is civil disobidience a good reason to take advantage of education without paying for it.

A large part of the Swedish economy is now based on trade with different types of immaterial rights. If the lack of respect for copyright and other rights gets further foothold, it will have effects also on the Swedish economy. The rightholders, not only in the US but also in Sweden and the rest of Europe, are concerned by the development here. The respect for copyright thus needs to be strenghtened also for the sake of Sweden.

Pioneers becomes activists
Wadsted somewhat accurately begins to describe the childhood of the internet as a place where universities, hobby computerists and scientists dominated greatly, and that the culture developed a culture of free information exchange. And she saw that it was good. We should be greatful, she says, for this development, making the internet what it is - possible for anyone to use.

But then something happens. The rest of society catches up, she notes, and moves onto the net.

When this occurs, something also happens to Wadsteds ideas on history and people on the internet. All of a sudden, the people that roamed the net in these distant, prehistoric times, the scientists and computer hobbyists and university people, all these dinosaurs, suddenly changes form. Now they are suddenly "internet activists". They're no longer the pioneers, the upholders of a free culture, the people making innovations, the highly educated, the ones that made the internet possible - they are "internet activists", with their own evil agenda. And this is the term by which these people, that happened to be on the net before "the rest of society" moved in, are henceforth to be known.

These "internet activists" have a very evil agenda - they are strongly opposing the idea that the internet should be extended beyond their own social circles and they definately don't want the rest of society to be represented on, or even have access to, the internet. This is a very strange assertion, concidering these "internet activists" (i.e. scientists, universities and computer hobbyists) have always maintained how much society benifits from a broader net access and lobbied for the internet to become more accessible to everybody. Guess it's only part of that obscure and outdated freedom agenda of theirs.

Freedom becomes obsolete
Other things also happened. Wadsted seems to want to claim that when the internet suddenly became something that concerned society as a whole, this idea of free information exchange, sharing ideas and concepts, helping each other find solutions and making things available for everyone in an equal amount and extent, became as outdated on the internet as it is in the rest of society.

This description of the history of the internet (once a playground for historical figures like scientists, hobbyists and students, now turned into a part of society), the people involved in it (the same scientists, hobbyists and students suddenly transformed into anti-social "activists") and the culture that developed on the internet (the concepts of freedom of equality that has always been obsolete in society but now is also obsolete on the net) is disturbing. But to be perfectly honest, it suggests more about how Wadsted views the internet, the people inovolved with the development of the internet, academics, and culture and society as a whole.

Go rent, damnit
Further, there's a suggestion that downloading of movies occurs because it can be done. This is absolutely correct. It can be done, and it will be done, and quite frankly, it's the only way to easily get a hold of a batch of one's and zero's and use it smoothly. Wadsted suggests that it's very easy for someone in Sweden to rent a movie - it only costs a tiny amount of money and if you don't live close to the video store, you can always get the rented movie via mail. Or use a legal access point.

There are some obvious problems with this. First of all, you might not at all be interested in watching the movies that the local video store (or legal online rental) happens to have in the shelves - most often the titles they believe will be rented out often. But if you have a taste that is somewhat different from the majority of the renters, these alternatives suddenly no longer give this possibility - the titles that interest people are not in the range of titles of all these stores.

The range of titles that you can access on the file sharing systems are by far greater than anything you can find in the videostore.

Wadsted also exaggregates when she uses the fictional sum of 30 SEK (roughly $4 or £2.25 or €3.25) as what it costs to rent a movie in Sweden. Some places offers you to rent for 30 SEK. Some offers you to rent for 20. New or popular titles will probably cost 50 SEK.

These 20-30-50 SEK might be a pity thing for many, but think about it for a moment. You can either pay 50 SEK to watch the most interesting movie that the rental place has on the shelf for a few times on your television set at 35-60 per cent of the cost of seeing it on the theater, but at a percent of the experience if you accept that movies should be seen on the white screen) and then go back to return it.

Or you could pay 50 SEK to have it mailed to you (waiting for a day to receive it, watching it and then go to the local post office - or store replacing the post office - and mail it back.

Or you can download it, and you use it at its own disposal. Since the downloaded version is a bunch of 1's and 0's you can basically do what you want to it. You can watch it whenever you want to. You can make a copy and give it away to someone else you know would like it. You can make your own fan subtitles for it. You can use samples of it, extract sounds from it to use as your windows startup noice, take screenshots and so on. You can also erase it. The only limit is yourself.

Obviously, there's no wonder why people download movies. It can be done, just as Wadsted notes, and it is downloaded into a form that is far superior than any form you can rent it in. And you can do whatever you want with it.

The only thing that Wadsted manages to do in her article is proving to have an outdated view on technology, a hostile view on both society and the internet, an absurd view on history, and an obscured view on what people might be interested in.

In her world, you pay for all forms of entertainment as a matter of principle and only take part of what entertainment a number of selected businesses have chosen for you to have access to, society is something that does not benifit from freedom or exchange of thoughts and ideas, and anyone not conforming to this weird view of the world is transformed from whatever they used to be (a scientist, a student, a geek, a lover of culture or simply a member of society) into a hostile activist with an agenda.

Guess what? I'm an activist with this agenda and take pride in it.

2006-06-22

MPAA and friends vs Pirate Bay - The Movie

Finally I found the big whistleblow from Swedish Television about what is probably the biggest fuzz in the computer world. the story on how the MPAA pressured the US government to pressure the Swedish government to pressure prosecutors to pressure police to take down the Pirate Bay.

Justice Minister Bodström: Trafficking the same as file sharing

The Swedish blogger Johanna Nylander of Frihet, Fildelning och Feminism (Freedom, file sharing and feminism) noticed an interesting thing in that justice miniter Bodström said on a television show where he was debating against a member of the liberal Folkpartiet last night:

If this would have been about a letter from a norwegian woman's organisation asking us to deal more seriously with human trafficking, noone would have reacted. This is exactly the same thing.


I reacted as well to this statement, but FF&F pinned down the problem delicately:

Quite frankly it is insulting and a sign of bad taste on behalf of the minister making this parallell between trafficking and file sharing.

FF&F:
It's completely tasteless, and he seems to have forgotten that kiddie porn crimes is one of the crimes that has to stand back for file sharing under the ordered priority order of the police.

Bodström should really start concider his priorities and view on people, when he obviously thinks that file sharing is something much worse than trafficking.


When over 60 police officers are allocated to steal servers from everyone that happens to have it on the same ISP as a file sharing network, other things has to be put on hold. It is beyond me how Swedish police can put such priorities, especially as they keep complaining (in my opinion a just complaint) that they don't have resources to fight real crimes.

Bare in mind that the police force hardly took the new form of copyright law adopted recently very seriously, saying things like "police have better things to do than to hunt file sharers".

It would seem that the MPAA and the Swedish government have worked to change their minds on this subject.

2006-06-21

The trade sanction affair spins on

After the raid on Pirate Bay, Johan Linander, from the Center Party, has reported Justice minister to the Committee on Constitution, the executive committee of the Swedish parliament that checks to see if desicions and actions of government are in accordance with the Swedish constitution.

With the recent information from Swedish television that the raid was issued after trade sanction threats from the US and american movie industry lobby groups, he feels the matter more urgent than ever.

- That the prosecutor is called up to be informed that the US threatens with trade sanctions is highly incongruous, he says to Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet.


The Justice Minister Thomas Bodström claims that prosecutor Roswall was called up on a standard meeting, but that there were no pressuring involved.

Linander shrugs this off as a bad excuse.

- Of course he did. How else could he have received it? We must not forget that Roswall wrote a PM in november stating that the Pirate Bay was not illegal. Efter being called up [to the ministry] he suddenly decides to strike anyway.


Concerning the claims of ignorance from the Justice Minister, he says:

- It would be very strange if he didn't know what happened, but I am completely convinced he did. It doesn't matter what Bodström has said or done. As a minister he is responsible for the actions of his civil servants.


In november, following an earlier Supreme Court ruling, prosecutor Roswall concluded that the Pirate Bay was not illegal. Not long after that, because of a mail exchange between the MPAA and the Secretary of State, said prosecutor is called up to the Ministry of Justice, where he is told about threatened trade sanctions. The Secretary of State then sends a reply to the MPAA where he says he has let police and prosecuting authorities know that the government expects fast and effective results within a framwork of a few weeks.

We are first of all expected to believe that this did not involve any form of pressuring on the prosecutor, or orders, or involvement in the case of the Pirate Bay, even though the Pirate Bay had been specifically named in the MPAA to Swedish Government correspondence, and even though this was the only profiled case that could be prioritized.

We are also expected to believe that the Justice Minister were completely unaware of all this - demands from the RIAA to the Swedish government, trade sanction threats, the State Secretary making statements of police and prosecutor priorities and so on.

There is alot of large assumptions that our government expects us to accept

RIAA threatens YouTube users

RIAA have hit another low in a desperate struggle to try to get rid of the piracy even themselves know they won't get rid of.

This time, according to Moneycontrol Tech Blog, they are sending seize-and-desist mails to YouTube users who are dancing to music they haven't licensed.

So, here we have a video taken of someone who's making a fool of themselves in front of the webcam, perhaps on a party, with someone expected to be a good friend on the other side. Perhaps the dance was recorded and put out on YouTube to the everlasting embarassment of the person in the video. Instead of focusing of the morality of someone actually putting out such a video on YouTube in the first place, the horrible crime in this is that there is music in the background, and the person posting the video doesn't pay royalties.

Or, we have the dancer himself making sure this is recorded and put on YouTube. Perhaps it's a call for some attention, the chance to become a meme, to become a new Gary Brolsma, or just because it was a fun thing to do. And again, he doesn't pay royalties.

This is clearly a desperate step in the fight against piracy, but it is highly misdirected. And it's so narrowminded and shortsighted I can't find words for it.

What do the RIAA expect? Are they expecting that millions of people will go to YouTube, find a video that happens to play their favourite song, rip the sound from the video, and sell it, and thereby cut the record industry's profits to half?

2006-06-20

Sanction threat behind file sharing raid

This just came in from news program Rapport on Swedish National Television:

The US threatened Sweden with trade sanctions within the frameworks of the World Trade Organisation, if Sweden did not stop file sharing sites such as The Pirate Bay.

On May 31 a large number of police raided the file sharing network on around ten spots in the country. Three of the prime suspects were arrested and a number of servers were confiscated.

Already from the beginning, Rapport showed that the raid was done after pressures from the US government. Justice Minister Thomas Bodström have consequently denied that he has pressured police to act against the Pirate Bay.

State Secretary Dan Eliasson, closest co-worker and confident of Bodström, denied already on the day after the raid that the White House had contacted the Swedish Government on the Pirate Bay at all.

Documents presented by Swedish Television today shows that Dan Eliasson has been deeply involved in this particular matter. The documents also confirm that the US has pressured the Swedish government to act against the Pirate Bay.

In March, Eliasson received a letter from John G Malcolm, chairman for the mighty Hollywood lobby group MPA.

In the letter, Malcolm reminded about a meeting he and Eliasson had in October, 2005, to discus the file sharing problem. Malcolm expressed concerns that "Sweden has become a haven for international piracy".

Malcolm also reminded that the American embassy had repeatedly "asked the Swedish government to act against the Pirate Bay" and finally asked Eliasson to "exercise his influence to urge law enforcement authorities in Sweden to take much-needed action against The Pirate Bay".

On April 10th, Eliasson sent a reply to MPA and John G Malcolm. In the letter, Eliasson explained about the government giving prosecutors and police the task of sharpening the struggle against copyright infringement and that the government expected immediate results.

Eliasson also wrote that he would follow the actions of the Swedish police against file sharers closely and that he, if need be, would not doubt to take actions to raise the efficiency.

Sometime this spring, Eliasson called chief prosecutor Sven-Erik Alhem to a meeting about file sharing. During the meeting not only file sharing in general was discussed, but also the particular case of the Pirate Bay.

- Dan Eliasson was interested in the process (with the Pirate Bay), how the land laid in Sweden, chief prosecutor Sven-Erik Alhem says.

The Pirate Bay was a big thing in the ministry, not only on white-collar level.

- Well, the Pirate Bay was the big case that existed on area of copyright and it was this case that had resulted, as I understand it, in the contacts from the US where they expressed concerns over the situation, says Sven-Erik Alhem.

Was Thomas Bodström also aware of these things?

- Well, I don't know that. But I assume that was the case.

Alhem brought up the Pirate Bay process to discussion with the Prosecutor General, Fredrik Wersäll. After the meeting, prosecutor Håkan Roswall, who had earlier investigated the Pirate Bay without result, were informed that copyright infringements were the new priority. The Pirate Bay suddenly ends up on the top in the pile of cases.

On April 7, Roswall is called up to the Ministry of Justice where two employees close to State Secretary Dan Eliasson explains to him what is really on the line.

- In this context it was mentioned things about black listings within the framework of the WTO and such, that such threats had been conveyed from the American government to the Swedish government, Håkan Roswall tells Rapport.

The ministry employees that gave these informations knew that Roswall were handling the Pirate Bay investigation, but claimed that the meeting was not an attempt to put any pressure on Roswall. He was told that the information he received were not to concider instructions.

- It was minutely pointed out that I under no circumstances should understand the information I received as any form of instructions of what to do or not to do, says Håkan Roswall.

One and a half month later, on May 31, prosecutor Håkan Roswall orders the raid on the Pirate Bay.

And today, state secretary Dan Eliasson confirms to Rapport the information that Sweden has been threatened with trade sanctions.

- I know that the US have opinions about the effectivity of our system when it comes to copyright. And if Sweden and other countries did not follow their international undertakings there are sanction mechanisms in the US, I know this. And it has been pointed out from the US side.

Has the Minister of Justice been informed that you and your employees in repeated contacts have discussed the particular and ongoing Pirate Bay case with officials as well as lobby organisations?

- Yes, he has received general information that there is criticism against the Pirate Bay and that police is working on the case.

So let us sum up what has actually happened:

The powerful movie lobby with the MPAA in the front line has pressured the American government to do something about the Pirate Bay. The American government has, in turn, threatened Sweden with trade sanctions if things were not done. Due to these threats, prosecutors sent out a large police force to confiscate all servers that used the same ISP as did the Pirate Bay. This includes, among others, political organisations and even a chechen news agency that can't work from inside Russia, for obvious reasons.

When Bodström tells Swedish media that he has in no way been involved in this scandal, he must have been lying. He expects us to believe that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have received trade sanction threats from the US, and that the Swedish justice system, which is under his command as he is the head of the Ministry of Justice, have acted on these threats, and that he himself have never been informed or involved in this process in any way.

Of course, this is extremely improbable, yes, I would even say that this is impossible. The only alternative would be that either the Ministry of Foreign affairs would have controlled the prosecution and police directly, which is even more impossible and improbable, or that Swedish police and prosecutors acted politically without him noticing and that the government doesn't tell each other of things that are as serious as trade sanction threats from the worlds only super power.

So, the only reasonable chain of events is that the Ministry of Foreign affairs have passed the ball over to the Ministry of Justice, since police and prosecutors sort under them. Then they must have given a green light, or an order, to execute the raid.

In no way, what so ever, can the Justice Minister, being the executive boss of the Ministry of Justice, have been unaware of this chain of events. If he were, he has shown extreme negligence and can hardly remain in office after this.

But if he knew, he either gave the green light, or did not stop this from happening. In any case, a Swedish minister has been involved, through direct actions or through negligence, in a ministry directly making themselves involved in one of the most serious abuses of power in Swedish history - by order from a foreign state.

And then lied about it on national television.

This is an excerpt of what John G. Malcolm from MPAA writes to Swedish state secretary Dan Eliasson on March 17, 2006:

Clearly the complaints that we filed on behalf of our members in 2004 and 2005 with the police in Stockholm and Gothenburg against the operators of The Pirate Bay have resulted in no action. As I am sure you are aware, the American Embassy has sent entreaties to the Swedish government urging it to take action against The Pirate Bay and other organizations operating within Sweden that facilitate copyright theft. As we discussed during our meeting, it is certainly not in Sweden's interest to earn a reputation among nations and trading partners as a place where utter lawlessness with respect to intellectual property rights is tolerated. I would earn you once again to exercise your influence to urge law inforcement authorities in Sweden to take much-need action against Pirate Bay.
Source

And here is an excerpt of the answer:

I can [...] assure you that I follow closely the actions taken by the police and the prosecutors in respect of copyright infringements on the Internet and I will not, if necessary, hesitate to initiate further measures to improve their effectiveness.
Source

2006-06-19

Society benefits from file sharing

The music and movie industry mixes up what is economics and what is business economics, claims debater and scientist Jan Kallberg. Mr Kallberg runs the blog Raka Puckar. This article was first published in Computer Sweden and is translated with Kallbergs permission - all eventual errors in the text are due to my translation.

I do not deny them their right to get paid for their word during a reasonable time, but I do question that there are equal signs being made between self-interest and public interest.

Let's take an example. The friends Magnus, Mikael and Motek downloads one movie a night for 365 days. According to the copyright lobby this means a hundered SEK per download with taxes excluded.

That means 36 500 SEK in lost income for the industry and 20 000 for society in lost VAT and taxes.

This is based on the assumption that there is a measurable correlation between download and purchase. The three friends would then spend around 154 SEK a day on buying movies and music.

Each of these youths would shun night clubs, liqour, cigarettes, travels, papers, candy, coffee and public transportation fees to be able to put all their money on copyrighted matieral sold by large international companies lacking the ablity to adapt to new technology. This chain of thought does not exist outside the music and movie industries. It is a chimaera.

There is no such thing as a binary choice situation where one have to consume copyrighted material or die.

Young people can do completely other things: vandalize subway trains, do drugs, roam the city at night and pick fights in pub lines.

Let's go back to economics. Society does not loose 20 000 SEK in taxes if these three younglings are downloading movies every day.

They would buy a fifth if they were forced to buy at all. So the theoretical loss of society is about 100 SEK a month per individual

The three of them means a public cost of about 4 000 SEK a year.

So is this a loss for society? No. It's gain. The cost is marginal compared to what is gained by calmer youths that watch movies at home instead of running around vandalizing, youths that gets their hands on computer programs they could never afford to buy and a transformation of kids from ignorant brats to technically knowledgeble adults.

They will be able to get into the labour market faster, since they know the tech. They are motivated since they haven't roamed around the city all the time growing up.

That's why the propaganda about how society loses from illegal downloading of copyrighted material doesn't add up. Society would lose large incomes, but the cost reduction is much larger.

Downloading pays off for society, with gain.

The complexity inherited in the software downloaded is marginal, so the real influence on research and development is limited.

Consumption is not about to disappear. It changes appearance and people go to concerts or see the movie instead of buying the album and the movie in competition with other purchases.

It is not certain that the youths would have had this focus on movies and music without downloading working as an initiator. If they would not have this focus, other choices would take a greater position, and that would influence the possibilities of the copyright holders' possibilities to make money in general and on the authortised market.

From an economical perspective - where only the costs and incomes of society and the way society is affected by downloads is weighed in - this is more of a gain than a loss to society!

The tale the copyright industry is telling about what Sweden looses from downloading lacks support from real facts.

Society doesn't lose billions in lost incomes and kept costs.

It is more likely that the long-term benifits from file sharing is much higher than the loss incomes. This is something that also the industry usually regards as profits.

Jan Kallberg, debater and scientist

Quick march against democracy?

Regard these news stories, from various Swedish newssources.
April 4, 1998: Bugging proposed as new work method for police.
April 6, 2000: Justice minister wants to give police right to bug.
April 23, 2002: Surveillance cameras prevents crime in schools.
December 17, 2002: Secret registration of more than 100,000 Swedes by Secret Police.
December 19, 2002: Plans of mass arrests and lists of homosexuals in the Secret Police files.
December 20, 2002: Green Youth demands apology from Secret Police.
January 29, 2003: Bodström does not want to open the Secret Police files.
January 29, 2003: Secret Police registered people's opinions untill 1998.
January 30, 2003: Courts approved of 99 per cent of all requests for phone tapping.
August 30, 2003: Secret phone tapping has raised 34% in one year.
January 9, 2004: 230 unauthorised police officers have checked out the investigation about the murder of foreign minister Anna Lindh.
April 23, 2004: The government wants to store data on phone calls.
May 11, 2004: Bodström proposes possibilities to bug before a crime has been committed.
November 27, 2004: Sweden is behind a proposal in the EU to force member states to store phone trafic.
December 14, 2004: EU law is prepared to force tele operators to store data about cell phone calls, sms:s and e-mail for one year.
January 27, 2005: Government investigator proposes law that gives police rights to install spyware on suspects' computers.
March 31, 2005: Secret Police wants access to databases of social authorities.
May 24, 2005: Government wants to give police access to cell phone tracing.
June 2, 2005: Bodström wants storage of phone call times, SMSs, e-mails, MMSs.
September 8, 2005: British minister of the interior wants UN conventions redefined to meet terror threats.
September 9, 2005: Bodström gets outvoted on storing teletrafic data for three years.
October 12, 2005: If the EU parliament votes against storage laws, Bodström is ready to run the question around the EU system.
October 18, 2005: Bodström to propose a law giving house "preventive" house search warrants without suspicion of crimes.
October 19, 2005: Secret Police given right to break health-care secrecy.
November 8, 2005: Ministers look over possibilities to have more people use paycards.
November 11, 2005: Government proposes to let the Swedish Defense Forces Radio Fascilities tap phone calls and internet trafic.
November 23, 2005: Police officer charged with selling confidential data.
November 25, 2005: Entertainment industry wants to use anti-terrorist law to find file sharers.
November 29, 2005: Bodström wants to change the penal scale to achieve longer sentences.
December 13, 2005: 12 000 surveillance cameras in use in Stockholm.
December 19, 2005: Bodström wants to make it possible to take photos during trials.
December 19, 2005: Priests, journalists and lawyers worried about getting tapped during prison visits.
December 21, 2005: Police wants to forbid anonymous cellphone cash cards.
January 3, 2006: New law multiplies DNA tests tenfold.
January 5, 2006: Newly proposed law gives military more possibilities to give out telecommunication data to other countries.
January 5, 2006: Swedish Defense Forces Radio Fascilities wants to sell data to other countries.
January 13, 2006: Every other employer monitor the employee's surfing.
January 14, 2006: Swedish Defense Forces Radio Fascilities is expected to get rights to tap phone calls to and from abroad.
January 19, 2006: The government proposes to have military help police fight terror.
January 24, 2006: Chief of Secret Police wants Secret Police to work with informers among high school students to find potential terrorists.
January 30, 2006: Investigation proposes making it easier to obtain tele trafic data, even in lesser crimes.
February 2, 2006: Swedish television reports that justice minister Bodström has proposed at least 30 law proposals that might threaten personal integrity.
February 7, 2006: According to the Swedish Authority on Mail and Tele, a large part of Swedish tele operators break confidentiality laws.
February 7, 2006: New law to allow phone tapping, also on physicians' offices and news paper offices.
February 18, 2006: Law investigating board in parliament claims the government proposes so many new laws that they can not keep up, and that this is a threat to juridical security.
March 22, 2006: British Police officer sold nude photos from survelliance camera.
May 12, 2006: FBI to get access to Swedish computer trafic.

Washington Post confirms US meddling and Swedish compliance

On June 15, the Washington Post staff writer Frank Ahrens wrote a piece on the ongoing attempts by the US government to make an effort in the international piracy war. While making a few points that would point in the direction that the US is in fact meddling in internal Swedish affairs, the article shows some incredible gaps in its insights.

It is some interesting reading about examples on how the US government threatens other countries with various sanctions if they don't comply with the White House view on piracy, a view that just so happens to coincide very closely with that of anti-pirates, indicating that the US government has taken the same losing side in the war as has the greater part of the Swedish ruling party.

The U.S. government has joined forces with the entertainment industry to stop the freewheeling global bazaar in pirated movies and music, pressuring foreign governments to crack down or risk incurring trade barriers.


In Sweden, it might be rough to accuse the US of being able to meddle successfully in Swedish affairs, and the Social Democratic party, with a long standing tradition of claimed neutrality, has a leadership that seem to think this is a touchy subject. But in fact, Sweden has several times complied with US demands, both by harassing people suspected by the US for terrorism, and by aiding in the shut down of the Pirate Bay.

When Swedish national television news program Rapport claimed that the shut down on the Pirate Bay was a job order from high levels of the US administration, this was regarded as an insult for the person that would be best targeted for these accusations, justice minister Thomas Bodström. But not only Rapport claims this - the Washington Post seem to agree whole-heartedly. But the Post seems a bit more positive to this than the very critical Rapport.

Last year, for instance, the movie industry lobby suggested that Sweden change its laws to make it a crime to swap copyrighted movies and music for free over the Internet. Shortly after, the Swedish government complied. Last month, Swedish authorities briefly shut down an illegal file-sharing Web site after receiving a briefing on the site's activities from U.S. officials in April in Washington. The raid incited political and popular backlash in the Scandinavian nation.


One thing the Post have misnoticed, however: the Swedish government can not have needed a briefing on what the Pirate Bay is. That information is well-known by all involved in Sweden, since the Supreme Court of Sweden has already deemed the contents of the Pirate Bay legal. This means it has been tested by three instances - and freed. Thus the US have hardly informed the Swedish authorities about what the Pirate Bay, something they probably know better than the US government.

What remains is simply an expression of desires to see the seizing of Pirate Bay's activity. But if the Swedish government has decided to try to nullify a Swedish Supreme Court on the wishes of the US government, this is a scandal that is difficult to compare to anything else in modern Swedish history.

Meanwhile, a high-level Sony executive expresses doubts that the current hard line on filesharers that are being used by the anti-pirates in the US is not having an effect, despite RIAA claiming it "has the problem contained".

2006-06-17

The perils of surveillance

Below is my translation of the text "The perils of surveillance" ("Risker med övervakning") from the Swedish website Stoppa Storebror (Stop Big Brother). run by master of engineering, IT strategist and author Pär Ström. The text, available in Swedish at the website can be freely used, if stoppa-storebror.se is stated as the source. I, who have made the translation, honour this license, and add to it - this translation can be used freely, if stoppa-storebror.se is stated as source. I would also be greatful if you add this webste as source for the translation. All additions of links to the text are mine and not included in the original. Furthermore, I have edited out links in the orginial text, because they linked to material in Swedish only.

Digital surveillance can sometimes make crimefighting and cheating easier. At the same time new threats arises - against the individual's integrity and freedom, against their happiness and success in life, against legal security and democracy. Sometimes, digital surveillance can even introduce new physical threats against people, and thus be counterproductive. These are the most important threats:

1. Information in the wrong hands.

Digital information have an inherent tendency to spread. The personell controlling the systems can be curious or greedy, hackers can break into the systems and bugs can make the protection of the databse non-functional. All this happens again and again.

Thus exists a real risk that gathered information comes into the wrong hands - information that can expose sensitive things such as a person's social network, interests, political opinions, health, habits, personal relations, travels, purchases et cetera. This can be used, for example, to attempt blackmailing.

Sometimes the perils connected to information in the wrong hands can be very far-reaching for the individual. A man in Oslo, Norway, pursued and threatened his ex-wife, who were afraid of him and kept herself hidden. The man then called the company taking care of the city's congestion charges and queried her license number, whereupon he received a list on exactly when and where she passed with her car. The electronic footprints gave her away. It could have ended in tragedy.

2. Innocently suspected

Electronic footprints can easily give a midleading picture, which can result in innocent people being falsely accused of crime, cheating or other irregularities. In the US a man spent five months in custody, suspected of arson, because the police demanded a printout of his purchasing list from the supermarket and found that he had bought material of the same kind that had initiated the fire. The man was released when another person reported himself to the police and admitted the crime.

That far-reaching police powers can have serious concequences for innocent citizens was illustrated with all clearity when british police in July 2005 shot dead a brazilian electrian in the London Underground, believing he was a terrorist. He had been in a building that was concidered conncted to people suspected of the failed attacked on July 21, and he was said to be carrying a thick jacket (information that later came under scrutiny), and he was running towards an exiting train. These circumstancial evidence put together resulted in seven rounds of fire in the head and one in the shoulder (another four bullets missed).

A Swedish example of how very lose suspicions resulted in blacklisting, where the black list later were spread (according to the principle 'digilat information has wings'): In June 2005 it was discovered that the telecom company Ericsson had blacklisted coworkers that had behaved unappropriately or was suspected of have unappropriate opinions or be unrealiable. The list eventually ended up on the company intranet.

Even worse example can be found if one looks back in time. During several decades the secret police were registering opinions of swedes on very loose grounds. It was well enough to be a subscriber of the wrong newspaper. The registered people were - without knowing why - denied jobs that were security classed within the military, radio or television, some parts of the industry, and other places. In 1990 more than 400 000 jobs were security classed in Sweden. The initial report of the State Board of Registers showed that at least 1001 individuals had had their careers ruined or delayed or been thrown into unemploment because they had been registered on opinion basis without any good reason. The figure is probably significantly higher.

3. Legal security made hollow

There is a tendency to let electronic footprints base black listings, that are informal and outside of the established routines of the judicial system, and because of this there are no possibilities for the individual to defend themselves or appeal - since there are no formal charges. Because of this people can end up in a legal grey zone impossible to get out of - they are not guilty but nor completely innocent. They can be the new lower class of tomorrow - "the marked".

In the US reports have already started circulating in the press about people that has a name resembling that of a known terrorist. These completely normal people are put under what they feel is harassments going on for several hours every time they try to use an air plane. This harassment includes questioning, violating cavity searches, confiscated passports and things like that. Their attempts to be excluded from this list are unsuccessfull. They simply cannot be exculpated, since there is no formal charges to be exculpated from.

In Sweden, the security police long-standing opinion listing of 100 000 swedes were a form of informal black-listing.

4. Purpose glide

Experience proves that when information has been gathered, or when a technical control system has been built, the probabilities are very high that the information gathered, or the system used, will start being used for other purposes than the one originally intended. This is called a purpose glide.

- In England, for example, the congestion charges around London were soon used as a survelliance tool by the police (the registration plate were automatically read and matched against a database).

- In Sweden we can study the purpose glide that has taken place in the database over blood samples from newly born. Orignially it was promised that it would only be used for medical research, but it has now begun to be used in crime investigations against the person who have left the sample.

- Another example are the log files from phone calls, e-mails and web surfing that tele operators and internet service providers needed to bill their customers correctly. These files have now become central tools for the police in various crime investigations.

5. The threat to anonymity in the press

For misconditions in society to be exposed it is very important that any person can safely tip off journalists without risk of exposure. The secrecy related to the journalist's sources is therefor stated by Swedish law. The storage of electronic footprints from electronic communication poses a threat of this protection being hollowed out, and the most extreme effect is a threat to democracy. For exmaple it has been noticed that in the US anyone can buy information about which calls bave been dialed from any phone.

6. Adaptability hollows out democracy

If people are getting used to the fact that their electronic footprints from everyday life are gathered, store and used for controls we can expect an adapted behaviour. To avoid potential problems in the future, perhaps people avoid buying certain books, visiting certain websites, mailing certain people, travelling to certain countries et cetera. This limits freedom, shrinks the frame of reference and prevents information gathering, and therefor it is a threat to democracy. And furthermore it limits the quality of life significally for people.

7. Feeling of unease


The subjective feeling that it is unpleasant to be monitored should not be ignored. To be without external control of ones private sphere is a human right that the individual should not be forced to claim. Concider the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (article 8, point 1), where it is said: 'Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.'

8. How can the information be used in the future?

Digital information, once saved, have a tendency to stick and never be deleted. How can electronic footprints and other detailed information about people's lives becomes utilized in the future? It is not self-evident that Sweden will always remain a democracy. If data bases had existed in the 1940's, Adolf Hitler and the nazis would have been able to find their opponents with much more ease, both in Germany and in the occupied countries.

9. The balance of power between state and individual is displaced


Information is power. Information about a person's location, travels, friends, purchases and other things that can be derived from eletronic footprints displaces power from people to the part that has access to this information. Thus, digital surveillance displaces the sensitive balance of power between state and individual to benefit the state. This means in reality that the politicians strengthens their own power at the expence of the voters.

Reponsible decision-makers often answers criticisms against survelliance measures and data gathering with the statement that "of course there must be guarantees against misuse". The sad thing is that such guarantees can not be made. All databases leak, and as long as there are going to be people, there are going to be abuse of information.

Sticky wings. Many tend to forget two fundamental and very important qualities of digital information. It has "wings" - which is to say it has a gargantual ability to spread. It is also "sticky" - which means that it is very hard erase permanently and totally. These two qualities are decisive for the fantastic advantages of information technology - but they also provide the hazards.

Violations in the Pirate Bay raid - the list

I probably should have posted this first of all. ;)

But here it is. The Swedish blog gardebring.com has listed the faults and abuses involved in the raid on the Pirate Bay. An English language version of the list can be found here.

2006-06-16

Chairman Bodström on pirate raids

After the raid on over 200 servers, some that still haven't gotten their equipment back, to get to the Pirate Bay, parliament member Johan Linander (c), sent a question to justice minister Thomas Bodström:

Early May 31 a large police raid were done to stop the bittorrent tracker The Pirate Bay. Except that people were taken in for questioning, there was a raid on the company that keeps the servers that, for example, contains the site Pirate Bay. The police, however, did not stop with taken with them Pirate Bay's servers, but emptied the entire server hall and thus also took server that only contains insignificant legal sites.

Completely innocent companies have been affected, their sites have been closed down and this of course means both an unacceptable infringement in their freedom of speech and financial losses. For me it is unbelievable that raids are done against other servers than of those belonging to a company suspected of crime. It is as if all the companies renting space in an office building were to be closed because there's one company in the house that committs crimes from their space.

Of course the justice minister can not and should not talk about a specific case. But the justice minister must understand the very large problem with all the innocent that can be affected when raids are done on an entire server hall, instead of the suspected company's servers.

What actions is the justice minister ready to take to hurridly make sure that innocents are not affected when servers are being taken?


The answer, according to Intrikat IT, is more or less that the situation is fine as it is.

The legal measures should therefor be in proportion to what is expected to be gained with the measures, in matters of the nature, degree, range and lasting time.


In other words, what the minister is actually saying on this topic is that this was an excellent way to deal with a problem - to, in order to get to one site, shut down sites of, among other things, a chechen news agency and two hundere companies, none with relations to the suspected company, and take their computers for an unspecified amount of time.

And, since this is such a good idea, and so proportional, we can probably expect things like this to happen again.

"Concentration and education"

Three months ago, the government gave the National Police Board and the National office of the public prosecutor a mission to investigate how they could make their work against file sharers more effective - or, seeing it from my perspective, how to more effectively hunt closing to 15% of the population. They formed a committee, and yesterday came their report.

Their first conclusion is that any investigation of cases of immaterial right infringement provides special difficulties for police and prosecutors. The body of law is complicated and the number of cases is small. This leads to a lot more workload for especially the prosecutors if compared with "comparable crimes". The investigations are divided among a large number of prosecutors and police personell, and the result is that competence is hard to build up and keep. The individual people involved does not get the chance to build up the competence needed to take care of the matters quickly and effectively.

There, it is proposed that all cases of immaterial rights infringements are centered to a small number of highly specialized police and persecutor personell, concentrated densly populated areas.

The second conclusion is that since the right-owners are an instrumental part of the investigations, and that the investigators are often dependent on the right-owners to be able to conduct their investigations. The right-owners want a central node where they can query for investigation on the ongoing investigations.

So what are my own conclusions?

Well, first of all we can state clearly that nothing has really happened on the actual matter. The report more or less talks about "focus, education and more evaluation", which in Sweden is more or less the same as saying, 'We haven't come up with any ideas, and we're not going to do much untill someone does'.

Also, the report clearly states that the number of crime investigations concerning infringement of immaterial rights are few, compared to "similar" or "comparable" crimes, and thus creates special problems. Indeed it does! If the 'crimes' are so few, why are they such a big problem, that the committee proposes a centralisation and a specialized education for the lucky few? And, more interestingly, if this is such a problem, why is it so important for the government that they allocate resources, that could be used for something else, to put on an investigation on how to intensify the fight against a crime that occurs so rarely in relation to other 'comparable crimes', and which are these crimes that are comparable?

We can easily see, however, how the investigation is very concerned about seeking the approval of the right owners. The right-owners, in most cases, are not the originators themselves, but more often large companies that have bought owning rights, and they have large lobby groups speaking of their behalfs. To quote Rasmus Fleischer of Copyriot, with my translation, and in-text linking:

A detail that can be noted is that they feel it is important to meet wishes from the anti-pirate organisation for "a central point to which they can turn to receive information about ongoing investigations". Without being a jurist legal expert, this sounds striking. In normal crime investigations, usually nobody, not even the person filing the report, gets any information untill an investigation is finished. Why should APB and IFPI be exceptions from this? What information are they suppose to receive?


Even more worrying is how these anti piracy lobby groups, according to this report, plays an instrumental role in the investigation and is dependent on their cooperation. APB are already under a bit of suspicion from being able to cuddle with the prosecutors as it is. It's only nice to hear representatives admitting to that. Again, APB is a lobby group, not a govermental body.

The Pirate Party made a press release about the investigation, now quoting party chairman Rickard Falkvine, again translated by me:

The proposal of this investigation is an acknowledgement by the judicial system that it today lacks knowledge and competence. This brings the raid on the Pirate Bay to a head. What competence and knowledge was behind for it? Internet is home ground for a younger generation. Youths live, breath and sleep with this technology. To believe that it's possible to learn this technology in all its complexity throughly in ten days only goes to show one thing: the National Police Board is naive and have not understood the complexity of the matter.


The Swedish word for a body of decisions from an authority "författning", the word commonly used in the report. It has two meanings, according to Swedish Wikipedia.

1. Constitution; documents with the juridical decisions on how a country should be governed, how the top state authorities are to be organised and how their activity is to be run. The Swedish "författning" consists of four basic laws: the governmental form, the procession order, the "förordning" on the freedom of press and the "förordning" on the freedom of speech.

2. Collective nomenclature for laws, decrees and directions made by authorities.


Perhaps its about time someone actually starts to question which of these two meanings the report is using. Do we need a change of decrees, or a change of constitution to be able to chase more than a tenth of the population?

2006-06-14

Funny debate in Swedish daily

Between 1991 and 1994, Sweden had a party called Ny Demokrati (New Democracy, abbrev. NyD) with representatives in the parliament. NyD was little more than a right-wing populist gang with no more ideology than the idea that they could win votes among insecure people by stating that people that are not Swedish is the reason for all problems, and that all problems will be solved if Sweden did not allow non-Swedes to live there. The party was surrounded by controversy from day one, basically, because controvery and media coups were what they based themselves on - given they couldn't compete in debates, since its hard to debate about ideas when you lack ideas. So, they made some high profile media happenings, were shunned by some of the parties they were suppose to build a government with, and then they simply ran out of fuel and disappeared.

One of the two front-men and founders of this party was Bert Karlsson, a record-label owner from a small town in western Sweden.

On April 11, Bert Karlsson wrote a debate article in the large Swedish daily, Aftonbladet. In the article he went on some form of crusade against pirates, which point was basically that file sharing is the same as stealing, that the Pirate Bay is founded by right wing extremists and pedo-porn, and that the Pirate Bay is corrupting the Swedish youth into rampaging right wing extremists.

On April 13, there was a response Marcus Kaarto and Rasmus Fleischer from Piratbyrån. They responded that piracy is not theft but copyright infringement, that the Pirate Bay tracker website is not illegal, that right wing extremists are not about to take over society and that the people behind the Pirate Bay are not right wing extremists. The concluded the irony that a person that has been in parliament for a right-wing populist party is accusing others of being right-wing populists.

I have translated Bert Karlssons article and the response. First Bert Karlsson:

The other day we found out that the Swedish Democrats will be the third biggest option when the youths of Sweden gets to vote. Most of use probably think this is sad, but I hardly think it should be a surprise.

The traditional parties have completely ignored the currents that flow through the younger generation. They dry to fix the holes in times of election by visiting schools, but never without a large trail of media following. There is not often a spontaneous visit in a school or a place where youths hangs out. This would have given the youths a feeling of sincere interest for their situation instead of, like now, the needs for politicians to be seen.

While this is occuring, the class gaps and the differences between have-nots and haves is getting bigger and bigger. Youths sees through this, it cannot be painted over every four years.

Who goes on the class trip and who doesn't is a question of social class, so is who can afford to play hockey or not, which families that can afford to keep up with the technical development and which does not. Jobs during the summer is a luxury, and real jobs for younger people is virtual non-existent.

Youths are in the same trap as our Swedish businesses. The flow with ideas and ambition but the politicians would much rather speak of replacement jobs and artificial breathing than giving them real tools in the form of money and help with investments. It is a language that they youths do not understand, and with all rights.

The people behind the Pirate Bay, which are dealing with illegal spreading of music on the internet, has understood how to speak the language of the youths. They offer free music and movies for those that want it, spreads the idea that they are doing an act of cultural good, and gets full support from children and youths.

This is a serious moral dilemma in itself for everyone that thinks that theft is theft, but in the long run it has consequences that are even worse. Behind the Pirate Bay we find people that are active supporters of right wing extremist groups and that are financied with ads from the porn industry with a focus on teenage girls.

After the closing of the Pirate Bay homepage last week, which sprung alot of attention, the Pirate Bay easily manages to get their customers to wreck and in sympathy shut down the servers of both the Swedish police and government.

This is a serious threat against our Swedish democracy that can quickly get consequences hard to imagine.

The Pirate Bay have, by simply offering movies and music for free, managed to get an entire generation into its own hands. They obey every little move and this of course also includes political opinions. That's why I am not surprised that the Swedish Democrats celebrate successes in the election among young people.

The fact that the established parties does not understand the power in this movement is sad.

The fact that one paty after another also conforms to their philosophy is even worse.

Without blinking, the entire copyright is sold out to win quick votes. This is simple populism but they are digging their own grave quicker than they anticipate with their cowardly acting, the backlash can be enormous, for them but even moreso for democracy and for Sweden.

I would not be surprised if we can count the Swedish Democrats into the established parties by the next election, supported by the Pirate Party.


Following is the response:

In the backwaters of the debate about file sharing they emerge like fungus - the failed record company bosses. Like zombies they walk around in a media landscape that ran past them long ago. The most current one is Bert Karlsson.

New technology is to be slandered at every cost and even though the calender says it is 1996 they do not shun any way in which to make us believe that music consumers are still passive recepients av one way communication. When the arguments are not there anymore, they simply make new ones, everything to achieve their five minutes of fame. In the debate pages of Aftonbladet, Bert yesterday got himself entangled by a web of lies that would make even his iraqi role model blush.

Some of the things that Bert claims:

"Copyright crimes are comparable to theft." - No, Bert, those that break a monopoly are not thieves, no matter if its aout selling headache pills in the grocery store, bring an extra bottle of booze from vacation or ignore the record company monopolies on copying songs.

"The Pirate Bay indexation of torrents is criminal." - No, Bert, it is not illegal to link to copyrighted material, in that case it would be impossible to run a search engine like Google.

Bert continues by accusing us behind Piratbyrån and the Pirate Bay and also entire generation of youths for being right wing extremists. This is comedy on a high level, based on two false claims:

"The Swedish democrats are the third largest party among youths." - No Bert, that figure is based on an unserious poll on the web community Lunarstorm and has been shunned by scientific polls.

"The people behind the Pirate Bay are right wing extremists." - Have you gone completely mad, Bert? What the failed record company boss is probably referring to is the "breaking story" from his colleague Brunmark, that the Pirate Bay once hired the Rix Telecom as their ISP, and Rix Telecom is ran by a member of the Swedish Democrats. According to the same line of reasoning, the People's Party, Sverok and all other current or former Rix customers would be racists.

The ideology of Piratbyrån and The Pirate Bay is spelled "Copy me" and our politics is a nice mix of everything between neo-liberals and the radical left. We have never seen any right wing extremists, and we have no idea what their opinions on copyright are. What we do know, however, is that the last time there was a right wing populist party in the parliament, it was ran by a failed record company boss. Don't accuse others of your own crimes, Bert.

2006-06-13

Secure computing and NGSCB

I guess I am kinda late in covering this, but I've actually missed it untill now. Nontheless, I feel it worth a few words, if naught else for me to try to understand it myself.

There has been alot of talk about the new Microsoft & Friends system lately, and quite a few have expressed critique. Not long ago I encountered a rather hysteric site that more or less claimed that Microsoft is developing a system that will make it possible for the FBI to monitor the whole world (whyever american police would like to take over very specified international intelligence gathering was not explained however), and pointed to NGSCB.

All this prompted a few questions for me as well: What is this NGSCB thingy, what's the idea, how does it work and what is the claimed problems with it? Anything beyond the usual pointing out that "Microsof Works" is one of history's greatest oxymorons?

What is NGSCB?
The Trusted Computer Group (TNG) is an initiative or group consisting of several computer related companies, and is led by AMD, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Infineon, Lenovo, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems. The aim of the group is to implement "trusted computing", which is their concept of what is known as "trustworthy computing" (in other words, trustworthy and trusted computing are not the same, and ironically, I would have you note the difference in terminology . that the TNG trusts something, it doesn't necessarily mean it is trustworthy). Basically the idea is to achieve a high level of security for computer systems, basically through limiting what the computer can do and thus making it less vulnerable.

Basically, this is achieved though the general principle that no software can be run on the computer, unless that software has been "approved". Responsible for approvement is a combinatin of OS software and basic hardware built into the computers mother board or CPU.

Based on this group's work and strivings, Microsoft is now labouring with implementing trustworthy computing in its next generation of operative systems. Or rather, they are working on implementing uses for hardware designed by the TCG in future Windows systems.

The concept is called Next-Generation Secure Computing Base.

The idea would be that on the computer CPU is placed a so called Trusted Plattform Module (TPM), with secure storage of cryptokeys, and also a co-processor doing the encryptions and decryptions. Applications can access the cryptos on this unit.

Also, there is so-called curtained memory, and the data on the memory can only be accessed by the application to which it belongs, and no other programs.

A good initiative?
One might think that it's good to see how Microsoft, who have a long-standing history of non-reliable and buggy operative systems filled with security holes, now finally takes a step to resolve these problems. Cryptos and such must be good for personal integrity, doesn't it?

Problems
Well, first of all, those that will be cheering the most about this, will be the anti-pirates and the DRM fanatics. What it simply means is that copyrighted files can be encrypted, and the decryption key only made available to the trusted applications. It's not a problem to create files that can only be read three times, or will be deleted after one day, or only be read by the Windows Media Player.

Another very important problem is what in business is called vendor lock-in. Already today, many businesses buys the Office Suite, simply because every one else uses the Office Suite, and thus they want to be compatible. I would be quite irritating to send over something to a business partner, and he can't open it, because his software can't handle the file format.

This is a problem for concepts of free competition on the computer market, as it gives Microsoft a very unfair position in the competition.

This can be solved today, because we have stuff like Open Office that are, at least for the most part, compatible with the Office file formats. People can open a Microsoft Word file with Open Office Writer, and in most cases, unless the file formatting is too advanced, it'll work just fine. I for one use Open Office, and I have yet to find a problem with making solid word files and reading them, but on the other hand, my uses of such files might not be the most advanced.

This solution will be easily circumvented in the era of trusted computing, however. It's not a problem to make a trusted version of Office, and the output files would only be readible by trusted software. Now you can't use any other software for these files, that are not on the trusted-list.

Anyone dare to believe that Microsoft will leave their Office suite open for anyone to use?

And suddenly, Microsoft has the golden opportunity to once again engulf itself in practical monopoly on the home computer software market, choosing the trustees and business partners as they wish - only this time, their possiblities to do so will be guaranteed by hardware, built in by the manifacturer.

Room for conspiracies?
And if this is the case, what prevents Microsoft from coworking with say the RIAA to effectively try to eradicate the concept of mp3s that are not being sanctioned by the record industry, or with the MPAA to make movie files not authorised non-trusted by proxy? And if they could do this with the RIAA and MPAA, what prevents them to do similar things with the FBI, to take away access to documents that are threatening to various political interests?

Now I am not too prone to sign all these very elaborate conspiracy theories - I don't that Microsoft will cowork with security and intelligence organisations to make freedom of speech on computers impossible forever and so on, I find the thought absurd. But for me it's enough that the theoretical possibility exists, to make me feel unease.

Doesn't solve real problems
Furthermore, it is widely claimed that NGSCB is not able to solve the computer security problems that are actually the most urgent today, such as trojans and viruses, which costs businesses alot of money and efforts when they hit. To begin with, Microsoft claimed that NGSCB was not just able, but necessary, to protect Windows users from future virus attacks, but now they have backed from those assertions, admitting that NGSCB can't solve these virus problems at all.

Funny trivia
It's however fun to notice, that Microsoft had to change the name of this concept. It used to be Palladium, but due to a copyright conflict with Palladium Books, Microsoft had to change the name. Let's just hope that this, if anything, makes them realize something about the problems with the copyright concept.

2006-06-12

Swedish Television on how MPAA and the Swedish authorities shut down the Pirate Bay

Fredrik Neij's speech

This is my translation of the very well received speech by Fredrik Neij on the same demonstration and in the same video as the one occuring in the last post.

During a little more than three years, the Pirate Bay has grown from a small file sharing site on a crappy ADSL wire in Mexico to the biggest distributor of all kinds of culture and media in the world.

During a little more than three years we have continued heckling the threats of the copyright fanatics, and worked to make as much as possible available for as many as possible.

The last two years, we have built up a file sharing empire that the world have never seen before, a cluster of pages and servers that is used by millions of people every day. An ordinary working day, the Pirate Bay has 15 million page requests!

What other culture site could even dream of comparing with that? Despite the fact that we spread more culture than anyone else, it's the movie- and music mafia itself that has fought to shut us down.

During these years, we've had numerous threats sent to us... and everyone has gotten fitting insults back!

And still, our work has conitnued, without any disturbances what so ever.

The Internet is fantastic. Every day The Pirate Bay users, all us together, send data corresponding to fifty DVD-r's a second. A SECOND! That's enormous amounts of happiness and pleasure!

So, how about the future then, how will it look? Now that the Swedish state and Hollywood are cuddling, like a loving couple?

Well, we will continue to mock their threats and ridiculous attempts to stop us! The Pirate Bay will be even more international, decentralized, and invincible!

Now that Bodström and the police have tried to attack us, help has flowed in from all over the world. Servers, bandwidth and finiancial aid has been offered completely without demands on anything returned or paid. People everywhere have seen how incredible effective BitTorrent is!

And people everywhere is beginning to get seriously pissed off about being pushed around by the mafia of the movie and music industry.

I can happily announce today that the Pirate Bay is up again! After not too much hard work everything is up just like it did before the raid this wednesday. This time we fire the big cannon, and say, "In your face, Hollywood!"

So the people at the MPAA, the Anti Pirate Beaureu, Bush, Bodström, or whoever gave the order for this pathetic attempt to attack:

Stop messing with the Internet! It's a battle you will not win! We're a hydra, your attack only strengthen us, soon you will be the only ones left with your out-of-date views.


This speech would, with the retorical figures and the edged formulations, have all potentials to become a classic when history on the Piracy War is written down one day. The only thing really speaking against this, is that Neij is simply following the standard outlines that the Pirate Bay normally use when they respond to attacks or threats - the Pirate Bay has always had a sharp tongue and always been keen to use it. As stated in the speech itself: "During these years, we've had numerous threats sent to us... and everyone has gotten fitting insults back!"

Speech from a pirate

The following is the translation of the speech, held by Pirate Party chairman Rickard Falkvinge on the June 3rd pirate demonstration in protest to the raid on The Pirate Bay.

Friends, citizens and pirates.

There is nothing new under the sun.

My name is Rickard Falkvinge, and I am chairman of the Pirate Party.

In the last week, we have seen a number of breaches of legal security take place. We have seen the police misuse their privilleges of force. We have seen how innocent has been affected. We have seen how the media industry acts. And we have seen how politicians on the highest international level acts to protect the media industry. All this is scandalous beyond comparison, that's why we are all here today.

The media industry, the record and movie industry, they want to make us believe that this is about models of payment, that this is about how people of a certain profession are to be paid, that this is about their decreasing sales, that this is about dry statistics. This is a pretext, an excuse. This is about something completely different. So, to understand the situation today in the light of history, I would like to go back four hundered years.

I want us to think back four hundered years, to when the church had a monopoly on culture and knowledge. What the church said, that was it. Pyramid communication, there was one source for all knowledge and culture, and that was the church. And woe to he who dared to challenge the monopoly on culture and knowledge. They were subjects to the worst thinkable breaches of legal protection in that time. The possessor of the culture and knowledge monopoly had at its disposal the entire legal system to persecute, punish and harass all involved in questioning their monopoly, and everyone that had been close to them.

There is nothing new under the sun.

Today we know, today we know that the only thing that is right for the development of society was to release knowledge. That Gallileo Gallilei were right even though he challenged the monopoly of knowledge. Again, we are talking about a time when the church, with full force, said that it was unnecessary for the citizens to learn how to read and write, since the priest could tell them everything they needed to know anyway. The church understood what it meant to lose control of culture and knowledge.

Then came the printing press.

Suddenly there were not only one source of knowledge to listen to, but several. The citizens, now learning to read, could take in un-sanctioned knowledge. The church was furious. The royal houses were furious. The british royal house even went so far, that they instituted a special law, that stated that only chosen printers, printers approved by the royal house, were allowed to print books, create a multitude of culture and knowledge among the citizens.

This law, this law was named "Copyright".

Then there were a few hundered years. and we had freedom of press. But everywhere there were still the same old model for communication. One in the top that talks to many people downwards. One that is the source, and many listening. This made it possible for the state to appoint responsible publishers. They thought that citizens should surely be able to get knowledge, but woe to the person who spreads the wrong knowledge.

And it is this that is under a process of foundational change today, because the Internet is not following this model. We are not only downloading culture and knowledge, we are also uploading at the same time. We're not only downloading and uploading, we're file sharing. Culture and knowledge has, amazingly enough, lost its central control node. And this this is central to this entire speech, so I will go into greater detail:

Downloading is the old mass medial model, where there is a central control node, a control node that is the responsible editor, publisher, that can be held responsible, that can lose benifits, et cetera. Where everone can download knowledge from the central control node, after the control and arbitrariness of that control node. Monopoly on culture and knowledge. Control.

File sharing, that means simultaneous uploading and downloading from every connected person, and lacks this central control node, but where are culture and knowledge flows organically between millions of people at the same time. It is something essentially different, something completely new in the history of human communication, and there no longer is anyone to hold responsible if the wrong knowledge is spread.

This is why the media companies speaks so much about "legal downloading". Legal downloading!. Because they are trying to make it the only legal option to get from the node that they control. Downloading, not file sharing. And this is exactly why we should change the laws.

In the past week we saw how far a player is prepared to go to prevent the loss of control over culture and knowledge. We saw the constitution itself being violated. We saw how repressions and violations of integrity were used by the legal apparatus. Not for fighting crime, but with the obvious purpose to harass everyone that had been close to this, and those that had been close to them.

There is nothing new under the sun and history always repeats itself.

This is not about payment to people of a certain profession. This is about control over culture and knowledge. Because he who controls those, controls the world.

The media industry, the music and movie industry, have tried to make us feel shame, to say what we are doing is illegal, that we are pirates. They want to hide us under a rock.

Look around yourselves today. Look have they have failed!

Yes, we are pirates!

But whoever believes there is something shameful is mistaken, it is something we are proud of! We have already seen what it means to be without central control. We have tasted, and felt, and smelled freedom without a top-down controlled culture and knowledge monopoly. We have already learned to read and write. And we do not intend to forget how to read and write. We do not intend to forget how to read and write, only because it does suit the music and movie interests of yesterday.

My name is Richard, and I am a pirate.


The speech has been made available through Google Video, appearantly by a user calling himself "Piratpartiet", which is the Swedish name of the Pirate Party. I have no reason to doubt that this user is a member or representative of the party.

Anyway, for you who know Swedish, and have missed this speech, you can watch the video here.





In the end of the video, Falkvinge will turn the word to Fredrik Neij from the Pirate Bay, a speech that has every possibility to become a classic. Translation will be right up.